Submitted as: model experiment description paper 17 May 2021

Submitted as: model experiment description paper | 17 May 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Afforestation impact on soil temperature in regional climate model simulations over Europe

Giannis Sofiadis1, Eleni Katragkou1, Edouard L. Davin2, Diana Rechid3, Nathalie de Noblet-Ducoudre4, Marcus Breil5, Rita M. Cardoso6, Peter Hoffmann3, Lisa Jach7, Ronny Meier2, Priscilla Mooney8, Pedro M. M. Soares6, Susanna Strada9, Merja H. Tolle10, and Kirsten Warrach Sagi7 Giannis Sofiadis et al.
  • 1Department of Meteorology and Climatology, School of Geology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 2Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3Climate Service Centre Germany (GERICS), Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Hamburg, Germany
  • 4Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement; UMR CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, Orme des 10 Merisiers, bât 714, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette CÉDEX, France
  • 5Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruche Institute of Technology, Karlsruche, Germany
  • 6Instituto Dom Luiz (IDL), Faculdade de Ciencias, Universidade de Lisboa, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
  • 7Institute of Physics and Meteorology, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 8NORCE Norwegian Research Centre AS/ Bjerknes Center for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 9International Center for Theoritical Physics (ICTP), Earth System Physics Section, Trieste, Italy
  • 10Universität Kassel, Center of Environmental Systems Research (CESR), Wilhelmshöher Allee 47, 34117 Kassel, Germany

Abstract. In the context of the first phase of the Euro-CORDEX Flagship Plot Study (FPS) Land Use and Climate Across Scales (LUCAS), we investigate the afforestation impact on the seasonal cycle of soil temperature over the European continent with an ensemble of ten regional climate models (RCMs). For this purpose, each ensemble member performed two idealized land cover experiments in which Europe is covered either by forests or grasslands. The multi-model mean exhibits a reduction of the annual amplitude of soil temperature (AAST) over all European regions, although this not a robust feature among the models. In Mediterranean, the simulated AAST response to afforestation is between −4 K and +2 K while in Scandinavia the inter-model spread ranges from −7 K to +1 K. We then examine the role of changes in the annual amplitude of ground heat flux (AAGHF) and summer soil moisture content (SMC) in determining the effect of afforestation on AAST response. In contrast with the diverging results in AAST, all the models consistently indicate a widespread AAGHF decrease and summer SMC decline due to afforestation. The AAGHF changes effectively explain the largest part of the inter-model variance in AAST response in most regions, while the changes in summer SMC determine the sign of AAST response within a group of three simulations sharing the same land surface model. Finally, we pair FLUXNET sites to compare the simulated results with observation-based evidence of the impact of forest on soil temperature. In line with models, observations indicate a summer ground cooling in forested areas compared to open lands. The vast majority of models agree with the sign of the observed reduction in AAST, although with a large variation in the magnitude of changes. Overall, we aspire to emphasize the effects of afforestation on soil temperature profile with this study, given that changes in the seasonal cycle of soil temperature potentially perturb crucial biochemical processes. Such perturbations can be of societal relevance as afforestation is proposed as a climate change mitigation strategy.

Giannis Sofiadis et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gmd-2021-69', Anonymous Referee #1, 01 Jun 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on gmd-2021-69', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Jun 2021

Giannis Sofiadis et al.

Giannis Sofiadis et al.


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Short summary
Afforestation is currently promoted as a greenhouse gases mitigation strategy. In our study, we examine the differences in soil temperature and moisture between grounds covered either by forests or grass. The main conclusion emerged is that forest-covered grounds are cooler but drier than open lands in summer. Therefore, afforestation disrupts the seasonal cycle of soil temperature, which in turn could trigger changes in crucial chemical processes such as soil carbon sequestration.